As schools across the country are slowly beginning to reopen amid declining cases of Covid-19, some students are still attending classes remotely. While half of the class is going to schools for physical classes, those studying from home say they feel a little left out.
‘Out of sight, out of mind’
Children, who are attending online classes, have been complaining about having to put in double the effort and make sure they get equal attention from their teachers.
“Teachers have to manage two forums simultaneously and while they wholeheartedly attempt to engage both the online and offline students, they somehow unintentionally end up giving more attention to the students who are physically present in the classroom. To put it simply: out of sight, out of mind,” Bhavya Gupta, a Class 11 student at Seth Anandram Jaipuria School in Ghaziabad’s Vasundhara, told indianexpress.com.
Students from other parts of the country are also facing the same situation. A class 7 student from Kerala, who did not want to be named, told indianexpress.com that while attending classes she is usually on mute mode to make sure that background and surrounding noises do not disturb the whole class.
“If a question is asked and I do not rush to unmute myself, I miss the opportunity of giving out the correct answer. I have faced the same problem in asking doubts too. It is like being a spectator, and I don’t blame teachers for it because it is their first experience too,” the student added.
Age to make memories
Teachers and school authorities have also been making all efforts to make sure no student feels left out.
“We plan our lessons effectively in order for us to devote equal time to the online and offline students. The learning engagements are inquiry-driven and such that they provide opportunities for students to work in groups and pairs, or independently as well. Since the online students are less in number, it is easily done,” Devika Datta Elvin, a teacher at Pathways World School, told indianexpress.com.
Another teacher from Raipur said that while she does try her best to make sure her attention is not divided, she feels bad for children who are missing out on the “little joys of physical classrooms”.
“When a kid is present here in the classroom, he/she will giggle with friends or develop a friendly bond, which is not really possible in online classes. And now what is happening in hybrid mode is that the majority of students are living those experiences but some are missing out on making those memories and friendships. I feel bad for them,” a Hindi teacher from Raipur told indianexpress.com.
Bhavya Gupta of Seth Anandram Jaipuria School does feel she is missing out. “While a few of my friends have started attending the physical classes, I personally feel as if I am being left out while attending online classes. In the online mode, I am not able to engage as actively in discussions. My attention span has been reduced to that of a goldfish and I am unable to reconnect with my classmates the way I used to,” she said.
Students also said that one of the main reasons behind not going back to school is the fear of contracting Covid-19.
“I have not been attending offline classes due to my personal anxiety and doubts. After all that we have gone through in these two years, parents and students are apprehensive about switching back to the offline mode. Furthermore, the situation has still not been stable. Due to this uncertainty, I did not attend offline classes till now,” Gupta admitted.
Priya Mohan, the head of the English department at Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, has been updating and altering her teaching methods to make sure that students do not feel overwhelmed or overburdened.
“Sedentary lifestyles with prolonged exposure to the screen have already taken a toll on the mental health of the students. We must not assign homework just for the sake of doing so. Simple class presentations such as ‘Show and Tell’ where the parent does not need to pitch in too much, can enhance the speaking and writing skills of the students,” Mohan said.
“Group discussion can prove to be a very effective strategy in the hybrid mode since the teacher can create breakout rooms virtually and divide the class into groups in the offline mode. Flipped classroom approach has also proved to be a good strategy where the students watched videos for homework and the classroom time was dedicated for collaboration and applying their learning,” she added.